President Donald Trump is under fire following a pair of seemingly contradictory tweets that thrust confusion into the debate over a program deemed critical by government national security agencies.
The controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which authorized the U.S. government to seek to monitor electronic communications of foreign persons suspected of terrorist activities, passed the House on Thursday in a 256-164 vote, but not before the president issued confusing statements via twitter that drew his support for the measure into question.
“This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?” Trump tweeted Thursday morning.
That tweet seemed to contradict a statement from the White House just 12 hours earlier which expressed clear support for the measure, — and it seemed to support a proposed amendment to reform the program that the White House had also said it didn’t want. The ‘USA Rights’ amendment proposed by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich. and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., would have banned government officials from looking through Americans’ data collected under FISA’s ‘702 program’ without a warrant.
That amendment failed Thursday morning in a 183-233 vote. Opponents of the proposal, including House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said the proposed change would “disable” the 702 program. The White House came out against the amendment and for re-authorization on Wednesday, though President Trump appeared to oppose the measure in a tweet Thursday morning.
Over an hour and a half later after his first tweet on Thursday, the president sent a second tweet on the subject seeming to clarify that he supports FISA re-authorization, with potential privacy concerns addressed separately.